Neal Patel, a seventh grade student at Henderson Middle School, has taken the first step to becoming an internationally recognized artist by winning a local competition sponsored by the Greater Butts County Lions Club.

Patel’s poster was among more than 450,000 entries submitted worldwide in the annual Lions International Peace Poster Contest. Lions Clubs International is sponsoring the program to emphasize the importance of world peace to young people everywhere.

The poster was selected by a panel of judges from the Greater Butts County Lion’s Club for its originality, artistic merit and portrayal of the contest theme, “Journey of Peace.” The judging was held on Oct. 25 at Henderson Middle School.

Lions Club President Jean Bonner said she was impressed by the expression and creativity of the students at Henderson Middle School. “It is obvious that these young people have strong ideas about what peace means to them,” Bonner said. “I’m so proud that we were able to provide them with the opportunity to share their visions.

“Patel’s’s poster will advance through the district, multiple district and international levels of competition if he is to be declared the international grand prize winner,” Bonner said.

One international grand prize winner and 23 merit award winners will be selected. The grand prize includes a cash award of $5,000, plus a trip for the winner and two family members to a special award ceremony. The 23 merit award winners will each receive a certificate and a cash award of $500.

“Our club is cheering for Neal as his poster advances in the competition, and we hope that his vision will ultimately be shared with others around the world,” Bonner said.

Locally, Patel honored along with second-place winner Harley Floyd and third-place winner Isaiah Hayes for their participation by the Greater Butts County Lions Club on Oct. 31 at Henderson Middle School.

View past international grand prize winners at www.lionsclubs.org.